Slaughter of the bookies
Simon Nott goes to Cheltenham
As always on the Tuesday of the Cheltenham Festival hope springs eternal.The punters forget that it’s the hardest meeting on earth and indulge in life-changing multiples genuinely expecting to get them up. On the other side of the fence the bookies forget that they were just a last hurdle fall away from a humungous clobbering last year. So much so that Ben Keith of Star Sports was giving away stickers to all his winning punters.I’m not sure how many he had made but I’d wager not enough. The books did get Mullins’ Min beaten in the opening Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle but only by Altior the 4/1 second-in and not so great if you’re the one that laid the £16,000-£4,000.
The first real test and hotpot to get stuck into was in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase with Douvan appearing unbeatable.One firm reported laying a £80,000-£220,000 though that punter missed the 2/5 laid to £2,000£5,000 but did better than the slow-coach who struck a £20,000-£60,000. Nothing slow about the winner though all the odds-on looking value at the line.
The Ultima Handicap Chase gave the bookies some respite with a 24-runner handicap to get stuck into but not much. David Pipe’s 11/1 winner Un Temps Pour Tout would have been a popular choice.
Bookmakers and punters alike were entitled to get their punting heads on for the feature Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy and so they did.Big hitters waded in £75,000-£15,000 The New One,a £180,000-£20,000 was reported on My Tent Or Yours while there were just untold bundles for Annie Power at 5/2, a real public horse.The crowd actually did go wild when she won, with deafening cries of‘Ruby Ruby’as the victorious combination walked past the stands. One bookmaker muttered that ‘This is turning into an expensive day’.
It was about to get a whole lot worse. VroumVroum Mag may have looked one to take on in the OLBG Mares' Hurdle with 19 runners. Some layers licked their wounds and got their heads down taking on punters with the smell of their blood in their nostrils. I’m not sure how the firm that laid the £32,000-£44,000 felt as it sauntered up the hill for another Mullins/Walsh victory, a little bit sick I’d imagine.
Once a disastrous Tuesday had been digested the bookies found their humour again. Down in Lower Tatts Armaloft Alex was regaling me with tales of one bookmaker who was saving on exes by housing his staff not in the Queens Hotel but with various relations of ex-girlfriends. I noticed that my old boss Dave Phillips was no longer working his pitch. “He swapped it for Torquay United,” quipped one wag;he is indeed the chairman now.
Little fish are sweet so Willie Mullins Yorkhill 3/1 victory in the opening Neptune Investment was gratefully received, all the money having been for Yanworth backed from 11/8 into 11/10 to a multitude of four-figure bets.
That was just a taster for the layers.They got a right result in the RSA getting 6/4 More Of That and 5/2 No More Heroes turned over by Blaklion backed from 11/1 into 8/1.
Between races a lucky Betdaq punter received a cheque for over £200k for just a £2 accumulator, great to see he kept his nerve not cashing out either.
The Coral Cup was one where the ring let the punters make their books for them. They were probably happy with Diamond King who had been one of the short ones in the morning but couldn’t be given away on
Waiting for the Off